Sean Reilly was a model employee for the Cash Store, Cottonwood Financial, for six months in 2006. The Cash Store is a payday loan company who charge customers who don’t have bank accounts a large fee in order to cash their checks. At the end of his six month employment with the company, Reilly asked for time off to deal with his bipolar disorder. His request was denied and he was fired shortly thereafter. He suspected he was being unfairly discriminated against because of his bipolar disorder, but he had been upfront with the company about his condition before he was hired.
After his release from the Cash Store, Reilly filed a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Together, they argued that the Cash Store and Cottonwood Financial had violated numerous discrimination laws and acts, including the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). These laws make it illegal to fire an employee simply because he or she has a disability. It also prohibits companies from making adverse employment decisions that are based or motived on negativity towards those disabilities or to any request for accommodations for those disabilities.
Luckily, Judge Edward Shea of the US District Court for Eastern Washington agreed with Reilly and the EEOC. Judge Shea believed that Cottonwood Financial did indeed fire Reilly because of his psychiatric condition and not for the other reasons Cottonwood Financial had given for firing the young promising employee. The Washington courts ordered Reilly to receive $6,500 in back wages, plus an additional $50,000 for his pain and suffering.
Companies like Cottonwood Financial are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for any employee who needs them.
Examples include: Pregnant woman who needs to work shorter hours during the last month or two of her pregnancy, employee with a broken leg who needs a desk job for a few months, and workers who request time off for psychiatric treatment.
Employers that fail to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities can be found guilty of employee discrimination and ordered to pay for back wages and emotional distress.
If you or someone you love was fired or discriminated against because of a psychiatric condition in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma, or anywhere in the State of Washington, call Phillips Law Firm at 1-800-708-6000. Our Washington employee rights lawyers are waiting to assist you 24/7.